Velvet range.


1,500-2,000 Common Scoter off Ainsdale this morning and for once, they were quite close in (in scoter terms that is, but still hard to work while on the water).
As ever they began to drift out as the rising tide threatened to push them closer to the beach.
They are easier to watch at this time of year, as they are more skittish, frequently coming and going so that when they took off for a short flight at noon I was able to pick up a male Velvet Scoter, and shortly after another two males together, big and powerful amongst the blizzard of Commons (the pic is through the salt-stained office window, but you get the idea).
Even though the sun cast a silvery panel onto most scoters wings today, the contrasty black and white Velvets really stood out – as they always do.
I wish I knew more about scoter behaviour – why do small groups go on those short flights, taking to the air for 50 metres or so before crash landing like plummeting black puddings into the waves again?
Why does the entire flock take to the air apparently without motive occasionally?
How do they cope with the constant swell?
Why so shy?
Does moult effect their feeding patterns here?
Will they ever get close enough to pick out a Surfie?
Encouraged by the Velvet hat-trick I tried a seawatch at lunchtime (1230-1330) but the flock had broken up a bit by then and as I said, had drifted further out on the rising tide.
Military manoeuvres down Hightown way meant a great big Chinooky type helicopter was repeatedly sweeping out over the bay, spooking the Ainsdale scoters on several occasions more and at 1310 I was able to pick out a further Velvet Scoter in flight.
This one was browner, a female or juv mebbe.
Otherwise quiet, bar 10 RB Mergs.
Good lunch.